Beyond the end of the road, the girl who lived in the apple orchard shack got on the school bus every day wearing the same faded nondescript cotton dress. While climbing the steps, she tightly gripped her schoolbooks. I wondered if she was afraid of dropping them. Her straggly brown hair hung limp and dirty over her eyes as she kept her head down looking at her dirty finger nails.
She always took the same seat directly behind the driver, stared out the window, and never spoke to others. Not that anyone ever wanted to speak to her anyway, except maybe to pick on her. But, lucky for her, she was more invisible than that. She was considered to be one of those "Cootie" kids.
I was very curious about her; wondered how anybody could be so poor as to not have a change of clothes.
We were poor, too, after the bankruptcy. But, at least my parents got decent clothes for us at the thrift shop and hand-me-downs from friends. We grew our own vegetables and raised chickens and eggs. We weren't bone skinny. I wondered why she was so skinny and most of all, how she could fall asleep on the way home from school on the bus and not wake up in all the noise. Why was she so tired?